Category Archives: Culture
We’ve all been acquainted with the WII-FM attitudes from people in various organizations.
The WII-FM culture (What’s In It For Me?) stems from a lack of leadership to align it’s people with customer-centric and altruistic ways of assisting those they serve.
Some areas you may have seen this are:
- The stock clerk who never makes eye contact
- A doctor who talks more than the patient does
- The sales rep who’s concerned about their commission
- A mechanic at the service desk who ignores the customer in line
- The bank cashier who shuts down the window just as you approach (it’s break time after all)
These people may say they like to take care of their customers, but deep down their behavior and actions belie what they core value truly is.
Yet truly great people come from great organizations that foster a servant attitude in their entire company.
A servant attitude doesn’t mean the oft mis-aligned connotation of servant; it means having an attitude of “I’m here to service YOU”, the customer, instead. It’s a culture of putting oneself aside to take care of the needs of another throughout the workday. In fact, it’s what we’re paid to do.
It’s the effort to keep the store clean, know your customer, and talk about the products that makes Trader Joe’s stores a favorite among grocers. The staff are eager to find boxes for customers with heavy loads of loose cranberry juice bottles, and take time to comment on the items being purchased, all in a non-pushy, friendly and casual way.
Servant attitudes are Southwest Airline employees empowered to take care of travelers, always be cheerful and humorous, and do everything possible to make a flier comfortable for the ride. It’s that type of environment that has driven them to be the highest preferred airlines for many years.
One of the best examples of servant attitudes has to be Chick-Fil-A. When employees and managers consistently tells guests “It’s my pleasure”, it’s only a matter of time before that attitude becomes part of the employee’s DNA. There is not a visit goes by without the “Certainly” or “Thank You” that emanates from the staff in their pursuit of taking care of customers first and having a culture that backs it up.
Whatever your personal or corporate agenda is, nothing can differentiate you towards success and customer loyalty than aligning your people with a proven servant attitude. From top-to-bottom and side-to-side, an organization that consistently drives this type of culture will not have to worry about what their competitors are doing. And neither will your customers.
Generations ago the typical work week as Monday through Friday from 9am until 5pm. Needless to say that model rarely if ever exists today.
Most workplace environs run beyond the old school work week. Banks have been open Saturday mornings for many years. The service industries of retail and restaurant have grown past blue law Sundays and even run 24 hour operations (such as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart). The trucking industry has been on the go around the clock for decades. Healthcare facilities need 24 hour care workers, and electrical workers need to be on call for many hours at a time due to storms.
And thinking more long term, many companies span time zones and countries, making a leader’s task of connecting with their people more challenging than ever before.
In order to be an effective leader, you cannot stay within the confines of a work timeframe that is comfortable for you, especially when your people look up to you. The best leaders find ways to reach out and impact their teams during times that it is not convenient for themselves, in order to tie together the people who work in these expanded time workplaces.
Here are some real-life examples of how effective leaders work across today’s round-the-clock and/or round-the-globe organizations:
- They know their job is to serve their employees and put personal convenience aside for that end.
- They use the old and still effective management-by-walking-around method to physically be at those places or shifts to connect with those teams.
- They set aside some of their work for off-hours and ensure their working day is in support of the mission-critical actions of the organization.
- They show up unexpectedly on a day off or holiday to lend their support.
- These leaders work long days to connect with second shift or come in extra early to meet with the 3rd shift and break down those silos.
- The best leaders will often travel to remote locations to ensure culture permeate the local area and that they feel connected to the homebase.
- They use technology like Zoom, Skype, and other online platforms to host meetings and live discussions.
- They make those team building conference or person-to-person calls at 2 am to reach that team across the globe.
- They don’t see their role as having arrived and not needing to put for the extra effort. They see their role as having greater scope and responsibility and needing to extend themselves even further for the organization to succeed.
If you’re company extends across shifts or time zones, you have opportunity today like never before to effect a winning culture and connect with your people. Leaders will make the effort, managers and supervisors will not.
If you think of a manure-laden farm, the picture you derive is probably unpleasant. The sight of dirty brown fields may be bad enough, but the awful odor that emanates will linger with you for quite some time.
Yet farmers put up with the gross and smelly substance because of the benefits it provides. However there are good and bad manures, and the wisest farmers know that bad manure can be toxic and harmful to plants, animals, and people associated with the farm.
As leaders, we need to discern the difference between good and bad manure. Manure in it’s very nature is waste, cast-off, an unpleasant by-product. Yet in it’s purest form, good manure is rich and will allow people to grow and flourish in a very healthy way.
Some examples of bad manure in your organization may be:
- Unchecked negativity and toxic behavior
- Unrealistic goals and timeframes
- Restricted resources that prevent tasks from being accomplished
- Deliberate sabotage to prove power or advance agendas
- Politics that derail the missions
- Behaviors and procedures that are not congruent to the core values
As stated above, good manure can be healthy and allow people to thrive and blossom in ways that cannot be done without it. Think for a moment on these issues and what good benefits can be derived:
- Ripple effects from toxic team or leadership leaving (pruning)
- Goals that stretch people beyond what they perceive as their limits (growing)
- Limited resources (due to financial or procurement constraints) that challenge people to be creative and innovative (moderating)
- Threat of competition and loss of business and/or market share (urgency)
- Company expansion that brings in new staff and fosters internal competition (flourishing)
- Openness of budget challenges that allow staff to find new ways to generate revenue and contain costs (sharing)
As leaders we need to do everything we can to not hamper progress and growth in our people and organization. But we cannot keep them in an incubator free from any harm or disease – the reality of the world does not afford that. By managing the type of fertilizer that is spread across our teams, we can foster a rich and healthier growth in our people.